Minneapolis private eye Holland Taylor (Darkness, Sing Me a Song, 2018, etc.) is called on to bail out the only people in the Twin Cities more morally compromised than he is: members of the bar.
David Helin was handling Brooke St. Vincent’s divorce; Doug Jernigan, the defense of accused rapist Robert Garrow; Scott Mickelson, a bribery action against Mayor Mary Feeney; Cormac Puchner, a class-action suit against Standout Investments; and John Kaushal, the criminal defense of Clark Peterson, accused of killing his wife. All of them have been keeping secret online files indicating that their clients were a lot guiltier than their attorneys were willing to admit, and all of those files have been stolen by an unusually well-informed and resourceful hacker. Who took the files and leaked them to the whistleblowers of NIMN (Not in Minnesota)—and why, given the very different nature of the proceedings, were these five attorneys plucked from all the ornaments of the state’s bar and targeted for extortion or unmasking? That’s what they pay Taylor and his partner, Freddie Fredericks, $20,000 to find out. What they don’t count on is the skeletons that will come tumbling out of corporate closets in the search or the unlikely common denominator that Taylor and Freddie uncover all too soon: the wildly dysfunctional family of self-made millionaire Robert Paul Guernsey, an 80-year-old who lords it over the manse he calls Axis Mundi as his third wife, the alluring 42-year-old Maura, his offspring, and his hired minions wander the city and its environs getting into every possible kind of mischief. Taylor and Freddie need to maintain a bulletin board full of pins and thread to connect the many tentacles of the case, but readers are advised just to hang on for the ride and not to sweat the small stuff, like who killed whom and how come.
An irresistible premise and a fast-moving plot carry Housewright’s latest along for a miraculously extended flight before it sinks under the weight of its complications somewhere in the third act.